Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On stigmergy, ants and VRM

Joe Andrieu writes a savvy post on the VRM concept. My brain is tired from doing the requisite backflips, but happy for the workout. He relates vendor management to one of the "you know it's important but how" concepts - swarm intelligence.

This suggests that it may be easier to rearchitect supporting business systems around the user, just as we know we need to do for the consumer experiences themselves. Here the user is the local store of intelligence which vendors (and whomever else) can then interract with, and in so doing improve that user's intelligence. So, if we can get systems to learn that everytime the individual gets on a plane he takes the window seat, maybe we can infer something useful that we can use for picking seats on other modes of transport. Or maybe not - but it'd be fun to have the data to play with.

This is a natural extension for mobiles, and one that may be a counter signal to the "data is always and everywhere in the cloud" schtick. Guess what, sometimes the data can be local too.

"instead of a bunch of individuals running around leaving a disparate data trail which is hard to keep track of, the individual represents the digital environment where data is stored by vendors. When the next vendor comes along, the data is there, available for use, without the need for complex integration, processing, or systems maintenance, just like the environment is there for the next ant to come along, allowing that ant to do what they do without a complicated brain or sophisticated map of the territory.

It doesn’t matter that Doc was physically moving around in his example. From Doc’s perspective, he was always right there. “No matter where I go… there I am.” This is more than just a solipsistic view of the universe, it is perhaps the most critical insight of the VRM user-centric gestalt. When you put the user at the center, it makes it trivially easy to manage and integrate the entire digital experience of the user. Because it is all right there, all the time.

Two obvious messages here. First, we all need to do a helluva good job in getting vendors in many different industries and sectors to agree on protocols that speak consistently to their customers. And second, this is very much about the mobile industry - and we all know how good our industry is at quickly agreeing global standards. The upside here as far as I see it, is that this is more of a device story than a network story, so may be a little easier. Anyway, fun times ahead.

1 comment:

Martin Geddes said...

I thought this product is an interesting baby step towards VRM:


It lets a company, for example, allow callers to select the sales person they get through to based on matching profile data. (So you might be based in Houston but responsible for North East customers, so you want the sales rep for the North East region to contact you. Can't do that just by matching caller ID to region.) Definitely a "telephony 2.0" opportunity somewhere in there...